Category:  Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains)

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Saffron Rice with Honey

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On May 19, 2016 0 Comments

This delicious rice gets its yellowish hue from saffron and its slightly-sweet flavor from honey. I think this dish lies somewhere between Paella and the exquisite rice found in Persian cuisine.

The only problem is that once you taste this Saffron Rice with Honey, you’ll go over your limits. But don’t take my word for it – just make it and see for yourself!

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium brown or white onion, finely chopped
1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed under cold water and drained
1-1⁄2 cups chicken broth
3⁄4 to 1 cup cold water
0.375 grams ground Saffron
3⁄4 to 1 teaspoon salt
Dash ground cinnamon
2 to 3 tablespoons honey or a little more

Directions:

1. In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil.

2. Add the chopped onion and stir-fry on medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes.

3. When onion is golden brown, add the rice.

4. Stir-fry the rice and onion for 2 to 3 minutes.

5. After 2 to 3 minutes, add 1-1/2 cups chicken broth and 3⁄4 cup cold water, the saffron, salt, cinnamon and honey.

6. Immediately set heat on low, cover the rice and bring it to a boil.

7. When rice comes to a boil, stir it ONCE.

8. Cover the rice again and cook on the lowest heat setting for 10 minutes.

9. After 10 minutes, using a spoon, taste rice from center of skillet.

10. If rice is a little raw and dry, add the remaining 1⁄4 cup water, cover and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

11. After 3 to 4 minutes, taste rice again – if it is too firm, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more water.

12. At this point, cook rice for 1 to 2 more minutes.

13. After 1 to 2 minutes, taste rice (it should be tender but not overcooked). If needed, add a little more honey, to taste.

14. If rice is done, set skillet aside on a cold burner and cover the rice.

15. Let rice stand 4 to 5 minutes.

16. After 4 to 5 minutes, serve rice as a side dish to meat, poultry, fish or as part of a vegetarian meal.
Text & Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

Pasta & Peas (Pasta e piselli)

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On April 28, 2016 0 Comments

Peas are in season and they’re bursting with flavor. Here’s a childhood pasta recipe from Italy. It’s simple, fast and delicious with Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 pound short pasta variety (this recipe uses trofie)
1 cup fresh peas
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (adjust, per individual taste)
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Directions:
1. Bring a 3 or 4-quart sauce pot filled with water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in half, remove and discard pulp.

3. Chop tomatoes into 1/4-inch cubes; set aside in a 3 to 4-quart glass or porcelain bowl.

4. When water boils, add the pasta and, using a wooden spoon, stir it once.

5. Add salt to the pasta and cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is al dente or crunchy-tender.

6. During last 1 to 2 minutes of the pasta boil, add the peas.

7. After 1 to 2 minutes, drain the pasta and peas in a colander.

8. Add the drained pasta and peas to the chopped tomatoes in bowl.

9. Stir in the olive oil and salt. Taste and adjust oil and salt level, to taste.

10. Ask guests to add some grated cheese to their individual pasta bowls.
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

Butternut Squash & Mint Fusilli

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On November 17, 2015 0 Comments

Thanksgiving is about the Fall harvest – its abundance and our gratitude. Typical vegetables used for this great feast are cranberries, nuts, potatoes, yams, pumpkin and squash.

Most of us incorporate these food ingredients into the dishes from our heritage. Many of you already know that we Italians begin a meal with pasta. And so, on Turkey Day, my first course will be Butternut Squash and Mint Fusilli. It’s fresh, fast and easy. Buon Appetito to all of you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 cups chopped butternut squash (cut into 3/4-inch cubes)
3 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pound fusilli pasta (this can be substituted with another variety of short pasta)
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons slivered, fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Prepare the Butternut Squash:
1. Place the butternut squash cubes in a 2-quart saucepot; cover with water.

2. Cover the sauce pot and bring the squash to a boil.

3. Boil the squash for 3 to 5 minutes or until it is crunchy-tender when pierced with a fork.

4. Drain the squash and transfer it to a glass or porcelain bowl to cool for about 10 minutes.

5. After 10 minutes, in a 12-inch, nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil.

6. When oil is hot (but not smoking), add the cubed butternut squash and stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes.

7. After 3 to 4 minutes, toss in the crushed garlic and cook for 1 more minute; set the skillet with the squash aside.

Boil & Assemble the Pasta:
1. Meanwhile, bring a 4 to 5-quart sauce pot of water to a boil.

2. When water boils, add 3/4 teaspoon salt to the water and the fusilli pasta.

3. Cook the fusilli pasta for 8 to 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente or crunchy-tender.

4. As the pasta cooks, warm up the butternut squash in skillet on moderate to low heat.

5. After 8 to 10 minutes, drain the fusilli pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the boiling liquid.

6. Toss the drained fusilli pasta into the butternut squash in skillet; add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the reserved liquid and toss to warm through.

7. When pasta and butternut squash are warmed through, taste and add more salt (if needed) and a dash of ground black pepper.

8. Divide the pasta among 4 to 6 bowls and garnish with slivered mint leaves.

9. Ask guests to add some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to their Butternut Squash & Mint Fusilli.
White Wine Pairing: chilled Fiano di Avellino or Pinot Grigio.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Speckled Brown Rice Salad (Vegan)

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains), Salads On August 29, 2015 0 Comments

When I created this recipe I was in the mood to fine-tune brown rice into something exciting. I combined organic brown rice, colorful bell peppers, onions, carrots, lime juice, olive oil and white Balsamic vinegar. It’s vegan, too!

This “speckled” brown rice salad makes for a perfect side dish at our upcoming barbecue on Labor Day weekend. Have fun!

Cook time (rice): 25 to 35 minutes
Prep time (chopping ingredients): 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 (as a side dish)

Ingredients:
1 cup raw, organic, long grain rice
1-3/4 cups water
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper or Pasilla pepper
3 green onions, cut into thin circles (including light green stems)
1 tablespoon white Balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. In a 12-inch, nonstick skillet, combine the rice and water. Cover and bring rice to a boil.

2. When rice comes to a boil, lower heat to simmer and stir the rice once.

3. Cover the rice and simmer for 25 to 35 minutes or until rice is al dente or crunchy-tender.

4. When rice is cooked it will be puffy and dry. Immediately transfer it to a glass or porcelain bowl.

5. Gently stir 1 tablespoon olive oil into the rice.

6. Set rice aside to cool for 10 minutes.

7. After 10 minutes, gently stir remaining ingredients into the rice. Taste and, if needed, adjust seasonings.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Rigatoni, Okra & Tomatoes

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains), Vegetables On July 2, 2015 0 Comments

With okra in season, why not prepare a delicious pasta dish for our upcoming July 4th celebration? While stewing the okra and tomatoes, the rigatoni pasta cooks in minutes – just add it to the okra in skillet. Enjoy and have fun!

Prep time: 8 minutes (for cutting okra, tomatoes & onion)
Cook time: 10 minutes (okra and pasta)
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white or brown onion (1/4-inch pieces)
1 large ripe tomato, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 pound fresh okra, tips cut and discarded; flesh cut into 1/2-inch rings
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound Rigatoni pasta (or other preferred, short variety)

Directions:
1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil on medium-high setting.

2. When oil is hot, add chopped onion; stir-fry onion for 2 to 3 minutes or until it is translucent and turns light golden brown.

3. Stir in the okra; cover and cook on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes.

4. After 1 to 2 minutes, stir in the wine; cover and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, bring a 4 to 5-quart sauce pot of water to a boil – keep water aside at a low boil.

6. After the okra and tomatoes have cooked 2 minutes, stir in 1/4 cup water, salt and black pepper.

7. Cover and stew the okra and tomatoes on medium-low heat for about 2 to 3 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, add the rigatoni to the boiling water; cook according to package directions – 8 to 10 minutes or until “al dente” (crunchy-tender).

9. While pasta boils, set the skillet with okra and tomatoes aside on a cold burner or on a countertop (this will ensure that it will not dry out).

10. When pasta has is cooked, drain it in a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

11. Bring the okra and tomato stew to a simmer.

12. When okra and tomatoes simmer, stir in the drained pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid.

13. Stir and heat through on medium-high heat, reducing the liquid a little. If more pasta cooking liquid is needed, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more. NOTE: The pasta and okra mixture should not be soupy.

14. Divide the rigatoni, okra and tomatoes among 4 to 6 dishes. Ask guests to add some grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and some crushed pepper to their rigatoni dish (optional).

15. Serve this pasta dish with chilled Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio wine (both are white wines).
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real